IT may not feel like it yet, but warmer weather is on the way and with it the potential to sell a serious volume of soft drinks.
That’s the word from the companies behind some of the top soft drinks and bottled water brands in the Scottish on-trade, who said there are several ways licensees can make the most of the seasonal soft drinks sales lift that summer provides.
Adrian Troy, marketing director at AG Barr, said that above all else, “people visiting licensed premises when it’s hot are looking for thirst-quenching, refreshing drinks”.
“The key is for operators to understand their customer base and to tailor their soft drinks offer accordingly,” said Troy.
“For many outlets, offering flavoured carbonates and juices is enough, but for others these can be used as the main ingredients in mocktails, creating a bit of theatre in the process.”
To capitalise on the warmer weather of the summer months, Troy suggested presentation is key – with a good looking drink more likely to keep tills ringing.
“People buy with their eyes so if a drink looks good, they will be tempted to buy and styles can be adapted to portray long summer drinks during a heatwave,” said Troy.
Visual appeal isn’t just an issue for soft drinks serves themselves, but also for in-outlet marketing.
Troy reckons licensees would do well to increase the visibility of their soft drinks offer throughout their venue.
“To drive visibility, we encourage outlets to ensure that they display their soft drinks prominently to let customers see the full range they stock and always include soft drinks on any menus,” said Troy. “Make use of POS from suppliers as it is proven to have a significant impact on sales.”
Amy Burgess, trade communications manager at Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP), agreed that operators should “get creative” when it comes to drawing attention to their soft drinks range this summer.
“On days when the weather is warm, many people choose to sit outside to enjoy a drink, and introducing a pop-up outdoor bar in a beer garden or outdoor area can help to maximise convenience for customers,” said Burgess.
For operators with an outdoor area, Burgess suggested being “mindful” of how point of sale is handled outside too.
“Licensees should be mindful of how they showcase their ranges outside the premises,” said Burgess.
“This can be done by using menus that are laminated or displayed in plastic holders, while items such as sandwich boards, banners or chalkboards can help further highlight the soft drinks on offer.”
Licensees should be mindful of how they showcase their range.
Strong displays will help licensees get the word out, but that word must be backed by the right range.
Carol Saunders, head of customer marketing at Highland Spring Group, reckons that when the sun does come out, customers are searching for drinks “to keep them cool and hydrated”, so it would be wise for operators to keep one eye on the weather forecast.
“Being aware of forthcoming heatwaves, although few and far between, can ensure that popular summer drinks are in stock and in the chiller when the sun is shining,” she said. During the warmer months, Saunders said that for many, this means bottled water – with demand driven both by its refreshing qualities and appeal to health conscious consumers.
“Within bars and restaurants, sparkling water is a popular summer beverage as it appeals to consumers looking for healthy non-alcoholic options, who still wish to have something special,” said Saunders.
“Therefore, it’s important for operators to elevate the importance of sparkling water as a treat during the week or at special occasions and to keep it visible in the chiller or named on the menu.”
An increased focus from customers and the media on health has been a “major driver” of sales for bottled water, according to Saunders, and she advised on-trade operators to cater to those customers with well-being on their mind.
“It is important for consumers to be provided with adequate choice as a solution to health concerns,” she said.
Nick Yates of Vimto agreed that demand for healthier softdrinks is on the rise and pointed to an increase in dining out as a driving force behind the trend.
“Eating out has become the norm, which helps to drive demand for healthier soft drinks,” said Yates, before adding that, despite this, many customers still seek out “an occasional treat”.
“At Vimto Out of Home, we are seeing our customers benefit from having a stronger range of healthier packaged soft drinks,” said Yates.
“But demand for post-mix soft drinks remains incredibly high.
“It’s important to provide enough variety to suit the taste preferences of a range of consumers, including healthy options for those who want them.”